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How different is action recognition across cultures? Visual adaptation to social actions in Germany vs. Korea

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Chang,  D-S
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff,  HH
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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de la Rosa,  S
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Chang, D.-S., Ju, U., Bülthoff, H., & de la Rosa, S. (2015). How different is action recognition across cultures? Visual adaptation to social actions in Germany vs. Korea.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-4590-D
Abstract
The way we use social actions in everyday life to interact with other people differs across various cultures. Can this cultural specificity of social interactions be already observed in perceptual processes underlying the visual recognition of actions? We investigated whether there were any differences in action recognition between Germans and Koreans using a visual adaptation aftereffect paradigm. German (n=24, male=10, female=14) and Korean (n=24, male=13, female=11) participants had to recognize and describe four different social actions (handshake, punch, wave, fist-bump) presented as brief movies of point-light-stimuli. The actions handshake, punch and wave were commonly known in both cultures, but fist-bump was largely unknown in Korea. In the following experiment, using an adaptation aftereffect paradigm we measured to what degree repeated exposure to each action biased action representations. Although previously we found that semantic categorization of actions was crucial for action recognition, Germans and Koreans showed a remarkable similarity regarding the relative perceptual biases that the adaptors induced in the perception of the test stimuli. This similarity was rather explained by a superordinate level of action categorization than a basic level action naming task. In sum, these results imply a surprising consistency and robustness of action recognition processes across different cultures.